Summary: Baptism is a marking point in one’s life - a reminder that they have been "crucified with Christ" and no longer under obligation to sin.
How many people remember where they were and what they were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001?
There are events that happen in our lives that become marking points in our memory – some of these moments have little to do with us, but then there are some marking points that are very personal.
When husbands and wives struggle in their marriage – their wedding and their vows become, or should become, an anchor point for them – a reminder that they have made a commitment and they can work it through. Their wedding is a marking point in their life.
When pastors feel like throwing in the towel because of discouragement or disagreement, the marking point of their ordination reminds them that it was not man who called them to the ministry but God himself – and until God calls them out of the ministry they need to keep at it.
It’s not that something “magical” happens at a wedding or ordination, but they do serve as significant marking points in one’s life because they sort of establishes who a person is.
This morning, I want to suggest that Baptism is one of those marking points in a persons life. Notice, I didn’t call it a “turning point”.
When someone gets married, their love didn’t just start that day. Weddings are not a turning point in people’s love – but a marking point.
Similarly, getting baptized isn’t a turning point. No one is getting “saved” when they are being baptized. If someone isn’t a Christian before being baptized, they’re not going to become one because of the act of baptism.
So baptism, as with weddings and ordinations, and even communion, are not so much a “turning points” as much as they are “marking points” – an anchor point.
And we all need those marking points to remember who we are.
As we remember our wedding, we remember our commitment to someone we love.
As we celebrate communion, we remember the sacrifice Christ made for us and we renew our commitment to Him.
When I think back on my ordination, I remember how God called me to ministry.
But what about baptism. How is baptism a marking point in one’s life? How does baptism help us?
I would like to suggest to you that baptism is critical in a Christians life in that it reminds us who we belong to when we are undergoing a spiritual struggle.
One of the greatest struggles we will ever have to deal with, is the struggle with the sinful nature.
Galations 5:17 sums it up well: "The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other so you do not do what you want."
On the one hand you have a genuine desire to serve the Lord.
You want to do what is right. / You want to learn and to grow as a Christian. / You want to walk the straight and narrow. / You want to fellowship with other Christians. / You want to resist temptation.
But on the other hand – there is the sinful nature.
Paul wrote in Romans 7:18-20: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.”
I don’t think anyone who has been a Christian that couldn’t identify with Paul.
So we see, both from the Bible and from personal experience, that as Christians, we have this ongoing battle with the sinful nature.
But what does baptism have to do with it?
Look at what Paul writes in Romans 6:1-4 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Here Paul is writing to a people who were struggling with sin and what he is doing is he is reminding them of their baptism. Specifically, he is reminding them that when they were baptized they symbolically participated in the death of Christ. Because they have been “buried with him through baptism” now they “too may live a new life.”
We hear the same message in slightly different terms in Colossians 2:9-12 where Paul relates "putting off of the sinful nature” with “having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God."